Third Week of Classes, Freshman YearWe are reading about biotechnology in composition class, reading about DNA and gene therapy, and Thursday we write a paper on the ethics of biotech, should we shouldn't we and where to draw the lines. We are talking about Tay Sachs about cystic fibrosis about sickle cell anemia; we are talking about sick adults and dying babies; we are wondering what we will do in five years or ten; will we take a cure for our babies or let them grow up with this disease or that disease. Almost everyone agrees that it's okay to use this new science on cancer on AIDS on a serious life-threatening disease.
John speaks up and says that God sends us trials, that they are meant to test us and we can't understand his ways. The teacher asks if we should give up all medicine entirely; isn't that interfering with God's plan too? John is quiet and maybe the teacher thinks she's convinced him, but I know better. He is thinking that it's not the same, that there's a big difference between taking some cough medicine and letting some crazy scientist cut up your dna and splice it back together in weird ways; that would be interfering with God's plan. John thinks a lot about God's plan, about doing what God wants him to do. He tries hard to be a good man, and a good Christian. He's a good husband.
My mother said I shouldn't get married so young. She wanted me to wait until I finished college but I said why wait? John's a year older than me; he'd been in college already for a year, and there were all those college girls. I figured that I was just lucky that he still loved me like crazy and wanted to marry me, so we got married in June, and it was the prettiest wedding I've ever seen, with the roses blooming and my bridesmaids in dresses cut in different styles, in every shade of blue. My mother wanted them all to dress exactly alike, in dresses with big puffy sleeves, in pink or yellow, but I said no; I wanted them to look beautiful, as beautiful as they could. Rebekah would have looked sickly in yellow.
I've never gotten sick in my life, so when I first started getting nauseated every morning, I knew what it had to be. We didn't plan on having a baby so soon, but we did want kids, lots of smart, beautiful kids. And after a few months I stopped getting sick, and I was still a little tired, but I started college just fine in September and I'm keeping up with my reading and homework and the last few days I've actually felt healthier and stronger than I ever have in my life. Which is why what the doctor said was such a shock.
What about Downs'? the teacher asks. And I can tell by the faces in the room, by their tight foreheads and pursed lips, I can tell that they think they would never choose to retro-engineer a baby or a fetus with Downs'. They think they'd have the child and raise it with care and love it and give up their lives to take care of it, they'd do whatever they need to for this special gift of God, who has so much to teach us. The teacher is disappointed but goes on; why shouldn't she? It's an academic question, and there's a lot to cover in the next few months, a lot of ground that can't ever be made up once you've fallen behind.